Hydro claims to have produced the ‘world’s first’ successful batch of aluminium using carbon-free hydrogen as an energy source in a move thought to contribute to the use of green hydrogen in heavy industry aluminium production.

The test – conducted at Hydro’s extrusion plant in Navarra, Spain – saw the replacement of natural gas with carbon-free aluminium as a fuel. Experts from Hydro’s green hydrogen company, Hydro Havrand, worked in partnership with industrial engineering group Fives, who designed the system and supplied key components and controls.

If it is utilised by the aluminium industry, green hydrogen is believed to be a suitable and emission-free replacement for fossil fuels in high-temperature heating processes. Although hydrogen has previously been used in lab-scale tests, Hydro’s industrial-scale test in Navarra is thought to be the first of its kind, and the resultant aluminium is set to be used to produce extruded profiles.

This testing is also said to provide new insights into the effects hydrogen has on metal quality. Such properties as its burning temperature, which is different from natural gas, will be examined in relation to the aluminium melting process and its resultant quality; this information is expected to benefit primary aluminium casthouses as well as other high-temperature processes, such as glass and cement.

Hydro and Fives will analyse the test results in a final report set to be released this autumn. Hydro Havrand aims to become the leading provider of industrial fuel switch solutions in green hydrogen and states its intent to continue with building capabilities in the hydrogen transition.

“We are excited to be conducting this test and it demonstrates Hydro’s commitment to decarbonisation,” says Paul Warton, executive vice president for Hydro Extrusions. “By removing the carbon emissions from the energy source, we will be able to produce carbon-free aluminium from recycling post-consumer scrap.”

“This test is part of developing commercial fuel switch solutions and to demonstrate that hydrogen can be used in aluminium production,” adds Per Christian Eriksen, head of Hydro Havrand. “Green hydrogen can remove hard-to-abate emissions from fossil fuels, in processes where electricity is not an alternative, both in the aluminium industry and in other heavy industries.”

Hydro Havrand joined Ardagh Glass Limmared AB and the APEX Group in installing Plug Power’s five-megawatt electrolysers into their respective plants, pursuing the production of industrial-scale green hydrogen for their manufacturing processes.

Future phases of Ardagh Glass’ NextGen hybrid furnace for glass production also aim to utilise green hydrogen to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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